Tag Archives: malema

South Africa – EFF MPs suspended without pay

Mail and Guardian

EFF MPs have been suspended from Parliament without pay for disrupting proceedings when they shouted “pay back the money” at the president.

The ANC said it welcomed the suspension of the Economic Freedom Fighter MPs. (David Harrison, M&G)<br />
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<p class=The ANC said it welcomed the suspension of the Economic Freedom Fighter MPs. (David Harrison, M&G)

The ANC said it welcomed the suspension of the Economic Freedom Fighter (EFF) MPs, which was recommended by the powers and privileges committee following the fracas in Parliament on August 21.

“The office of the ANC chief whip [Stone Sizani] welcomes the adoption [on Thursday night] of the report and the recommendations of the powers and privileges committee that conducted a hearing into allegations of misconduct by 20 EFF Members of Parliament,” spokesman Moloto Mothapo said in a statement.

“All the 20 MPs were found guilty of contempt of Parliament for their participation in the highly disruptive and disorderly conduct on 21 August 2014.”

The EFF had threatened court action should the National Assembly approve a recommendation by the committee to suspend its parliamentarians without pay, including EFF leader Julius Malema.

‘Pay back the money’
The 20 members of the Economic Freedom Fighters heckled President Jacob Zuma during question time. They shouted “pay back the money” and effectively halted proceedings. Mothapo said their conduct obstructed the House from performing its scheduled business.

He said the ANC agreed with the decision of the National Assembly that the MPs’ conduct constituted contempt of Parliament in terms of the Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act and therefore warranted the harshest sanctions permitted in the act.

“Various sanctions have thus been imposed upon the 20 MPs in accordance with the categories of charges for which they were found guilty. The first group, which includes the ringleaders, [EFF leader] Julius Malema and [EFF chief whip] Floyd Shivambu, has been suspended for a period of 30 days without remuneration.

“The second group has been suspended for a period of 14 days without remuneration. The third group was ordered to apologise to the House and fined an equivalent of a 14 days’ salary and any allowance payable to them,” said Moloto.

He believed the decision would withstand the test of any court of law.

“It is for this reason that we believe the institution should not be fazed by the desperate and legally unsound court challenge threatened by the EFF. We are confident that the case would be thrown out the same way their initial attempt to interdict the hearing from taking place was discarded by the Western Cape High Court on 29 September.”

EFF members detained in Namibia

Mail and Guardian

The EFF has responded angrily to the temporary detainment of three of its members by immigration officials in Namibia while en route to an NEFF rally.

EFF
Namibian Economic Freedom Fighters. (The Namibian)

Ahead of the Namibian general election next month, a delegation of Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) members was detained by immigration officials in Windhoek, prompting the red berets to accuse the Namibian ruling party of undermining regional protocol and being implicit in the persecution of the movement.

Their visit to Namibia, from October 10 to 12, was at the invitation of the newly-registered Nambian Economic Freedom Fighters (NEFF) for the South African delegates to attend their manifesto launch. The delegates had also planned to visit informal settlements in the country and to meet with opposition parties.

In a press release, the party said it was horrified that the delegation was detained for more than two hours for not having visas. “We are fully aware of the requirements in SADC [South African Development Community] in terms of the visa requirements and this does not prohibit the entry of South Africans into SADC countries,” the release said.

“The extent to which the ruling party of Namibia has sought to undermine the regional protocol and African unity is an indication of their lack of respect for democracy and the African agenda.”

The envoy comprised of EFF national coordinator Mpho Ramakatsa, commissar for international relations and solidarity Magdalene Moonsamy and commissar for land reform and agrarian revolution Andile Mngxitama.

General elections in Namibia are planned for November 28, and the NEFF was launched with an aim to be a radical left, anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist movement.

Opposition parties occupy few seats in Namibia’s Parliament as the ruling South-West Africa People’s Organisation (Swapo) has enjoyed majority support since the country’s independence from South Africa in 1990.

P olitical analyst Nic Borain said with the NEFF having taken root in Namibia, he had “no doubt Swapo is going to give as much uphill to that party as it can.” He said the Namibian government would not make life easy for a delegation it perceives as contributing to unsettling political relations.

Close relationship
The ANC government has a close relationship with Namibia at both a government level and a party level, said Borain. “I think it is entirely realistic for the EFF to argue there have been administrative obstacles placed in their way [regarding the hold up in Windhoek].”

“What is very clear are the similarities between Namibia and South Africa in terms of their liberation movements and the kind of countries they have built with [the] kind of problems they have … In both countries, the government is accused of elite empowerment. Transformation has not led to adequate economic empowerment and the plum jobs have gone to elite empowerment and cronies of the ruling party.”

The similar social and economic architecture in the two countries has provided real grounds for both governments to be threatened, said Borain, noting that the structure of privilege has been left significantly unchallenged in both nations.

“So a breakaway rebellion, claiming to go back to roots of liberation struggle – it’s a threat,” he added.

According to the United Nations development programmes, as a middle-income country with one of the most unequal income distributions in the world, Namibia is a place of poverty amid plenty. According to the recent Namibia Household Income and Expenditure Survey, more than one in four households live in poverty. Furthermore, the poorest 10% of households command just 1% of the country’s total income, whereas the wealthiest 10% control more than half.

The country’s unemployment rate also remains high (27.4% at last count). Despite this, Swapo remains the majority party and still received more than 75% of the vote in the 2009 general election.

Like Swapo, the ruling ANC in South Africa has dominated at the polls since it came into power in 1994. However, the EFF surprised in the 2014 general election by winning 25 seats in the National Assembly and their presence has served to disrupt parliamentary proceedings on a number of occasions.

‘Just like pastors’
Permanent secretary in Namibia’s ministry of home affairs and immigration, Patrick Nandango did not respond to the Mail & Guardian‘s questions sent over email.

He was, however, quoted in local paper The Namibian as saying that the government demands visas from foreigners coming to work in Namibia and that the EFF officials should have obtained this as they planned to address a rally.

“It’s just like pastors. They have to get visas if they are going to preach here,” Nandango was quoted as saying.

Information on the Namibian consulate’s website does say that business visas in Namibia are defined as including business people attending meetings at subsidiaries of their parent companies and attending conferences, corporate events and meetings for which no remuneration is received. However, the website also lists South Africa as one of the countries with which it has a visa abolition agreement and its nationals “are not required to obtain a visa when travelling to Namibia”.

The EFF said it condemned the persecution of the movement for economic freedom that is growing all over the world.

The Namibian incident was similar, it noted, to the efforts of the president of Botswana who denied a visa application by EFF commander in chief Julius Malema in September.

In June last year, Malema was identified by Botswana as the only South African who needed a visa to enter the country, following his comments in 2011, before his expulsion from the ANC Youth League, where he called for a regime change in the country. Malema reportedly said the league intended establishing a Botswana command team which would work towards uniting all oppositional forces in Botswana “to oppose the puppet regime of Botswana, led by the Botswana Democratic Party”.

Swapo Party Youth League leaders have openly supported Malema, who was invited to the NEFF manifesto launch, but did not attend. The NEFF had also invited the daughter of the late Muammar Gaddafi. Upon its formation in June, the party said it strongly opposed homosexuality and believed that Namibia’s resources should be held by its indigenous inhabitants.

Despite numerous attempts, the M&G was unable to reach home affairs spokesperson Mayihlome Tshwete for comment.

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Lisa Steyn is a business reporter at the Mail & Guardian.
•Read more from Lisa Steyn
•Twitter: @Lisa4president

South Africa – EFF walks out of parliamentary disciplinary hearing

Mail and Guardian

Julius Malema and other EFF MPs walked out of a disciplinary hearing about the ‘pay back the money’ debacle, saying it was contaminated by the ANC.

The EFF refused to leave Parliament after chanting 'pay back the money', but now they're refusing to stay, storming out of a disciplinary hearing. (M&G)

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MPs walked out of the parliamentary inquiry convened to determine whether their behaviour in chanting “pay back the money” to President Jacob Zuma during question time in the National Assembly on August 21 constituted contempt of Parliament.

The walkout followed calls by EFF leader Julius Malema for the powers and privileges committee running the hearing to stop the entire disciplinary process saying it was contaminated with the ANC acting as a complainant, judge and possibly witnesses if the case proceeds.

He wanted the committee to withdraw all the charges against EFF MPs. Malema dared the committee to find them guilty in absentia and impose the harshest sentence, which is a suspension for 30 days without pay.

Malema is one of 20 EFF MPs who have been charged for misconduct by Parliament’s powers and privileges committee for chanting “pay back the money”. The MPs had also refused to leave the National Assembly chamber when instructed to do so by Speaker Baleka Mbete.

The MPs in question had been unhappy with Zuma’s reply to a question about when he was going to pay back part of the money spent on the R246-million security upgrades to his private Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal.

Five-day hearing
On Tuesday, the first session of a five-day hearing into EFF behaviour, the party shifted all the blame to Mbete, saying she had led to the degeneration of the August 21 plenary session by refusing to acknowledge EFF MPs who wanted to pose questions to the president.

Malema wanted the committee to summon Mbete and caution her against the manner in which she conducted herself in the House on that day. He read out an 89-point submission to the hearing, on behalf of the charged EFF MPs, saying they were of the view that the committee should not proceed with the disciplinary process because, as members of opposing political parties, they were conflicted and in no position to arrive at a fair and just conclusion.

Malema also pointed out that the majority of the committee was ANC members, a party which has been calling for a harsher sentence against members of the EFF in response to the fracas in Parliament.

“The complainant [Mbete] is not only a speaker but a party national chairperson who on Mondays sits with the president and on Thursday attends the ruling party caucus and on other days preside over House meetings where she is expected to be impartial.”

“The complainant is not only a speaker, but sits in the powerful deployment committee about who becomes a whip, a minister and committee chairperson, it will be career limiting for you to differ with her,” said Malema as he explained why ANC MPs could not be objective in dealing with the matter.

Degeneration
Malema blamed Mbete for the chaos in the plenary session, saying she was the one who should be charged. “The speaker of Parliament refused us an opportunity to receive an answer from the president and continued to recognise other members of Parliament to ask further questions despite the fact that our question was not answered,” said Malema.

He said Zuma’s response failed to answer “the simple question of when will he pay back the money”. He said when EFF members rose on the point of order and asked for Mbete’s attention, she had blatantly ignored them, and instructed them to sit down.

Malema questioned why ANC members, who were heard singing Umshini Wami and “trying to intimidate EFF members” for holding the president to answer the question, were not charged.

He also alleged that a member of the powers and privileges committee was among the ANC members who tried to force their way into the house “such that it would have been dangerous for EFF members to leave the house”.

“One member who successfully pushed her way in is Nokukhanya Mthembu seated amongst you and a judge in a matter she is not only a potential witness or witnessed the alleged misconduct, but herself sang the song Umshini Wami and forced herself inside the House during house suspension, trampling over a police line and successfully pushing police officers way to gain entry.”

“Whatever is the outcome of this process, the EFF will not be participating,” he said, before walking out alongside other EFF MPs who attended the hearing.

The committee adjourned shortly afterwards, but was scheduled to continue and to determine a way forward.


South Africa – ANC’s Mantashe says parliament should crack the whip over EFF “rabble-rousing”

It was clearly OK when Malema was a rabble-rouser for Zuma and the ANC, but not now.KS

Mail and Guardian

Parliament must crack the whip against the rabble-rousing EFF, whose antics have disrupted proceedings on a couple of occasions, says Gwede Mantashe.

The ANC's Gwede Mantashe has said that the EFF must be dealt with

 

While the ANC has seemingly backtracked on its pronouncements that President Jacob Zuma and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa must be shielded from accounting to Parliament, it wants Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MPs dealt with “harshly”.

In a press conference on Monday, following its National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting at the weekend, ANC general secretary Gwede Mantashe was unequivocal that Parliament must crack the whip against the red berets who have a penchant for disrupting sittings of the house.

“If you are deviating from the rules, Parliament must be harsh,” he said.

The three day meeting of the highest decision making body of the ANC appeared to have mulled at length on the EFF’s disruptive antics.

“All we want Parliament to do is enforce the rules of Parliament,” Mantashe said.

Middle finger
Last Wednesday, EFF leaders were thrown out of Parliament for the second time. Leader Julius Malema and his Chief Whip Floyd Shivumbu were ordered to leave the National Assembly after accusing Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa of “murdering” 34 Marikana mineworkers.

Shivumbu showed Ramaphosa the middle finger before being hauled out of the National Assembly. He later revoked the gesture.

“What is robust about showing a middle finger to the deputy president?” Mantashe rhetorically asked at the press briefing.

Prior to this, the EFF caused mayhem in a parliamentary session where President Jacob Zuma was answering questions. “Pay back the money,” they chanted.

“To this end the NEC noted the extent to which parliamentary processes have descended into chaos and the unruly offensive on the ANC in Parliament, Parliament itself and on democracy in our country,” Mantashe said.

Parliament not a ‘battleground’
He said hooliganism and insults were at an unprecedented level, adding that Parliament could not become a “battleground”.

“The decorum and dignity of Parliament as an institution is being dragged through the mud under the cover of the right to be robust,” Mantashe said.

The Sunday Times had previously reported that the NEC wanted Parliament to protect President Jacob Zuma and his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa from “humiliation and embarrassment” from opposition parties.

Mantashe said the NEC had made the decision that Zuma and Ramaphosa should account to the people through imbizos in communities.

“The more Parliament gets disrupted and the opportunity for answering questions is closed, there is less contact with our people.”

Mantashe insisted that launching the imbizo programme was not undermining democracy.

“The ANC has a revolutionary duty to defend itself, the revolution and democracy,” he said.

M&G

South Africa – government plumbs new depths of idiocy by saying EFF protests a national security threat

Mail and Guardian

While evading questions about what measures might be taken against the EFF, the defence minister has accused the party of undermining Parliament.

The protest by EFF MPs during a parliamentary Q&A session on Thursday posed a threat to national security, according to Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula. (David Harrison, M&G)

The protest by Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MPs during a parliamentary question and answer session on Thursday posed a threat to national security. This is according to Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, who told journalists on Tuesday morning that the EFF’s actions were a threat to national security and to everything else.

“It posed a threat to everybody inside that chamber but also to the institution. It undermined the institution of Parliament, it undermined our Constitution and everything which we are representing here,” said Mapisa-Nqakula, responding to a question from a journalist in Parliament.

The definition of national security is widely contested in South African politics. Opposition parties and civil society organisations have over the years voiced their unhappiness over the ANC’s proposed definition of national security, saying it was too broad, vague and open-ended and would give ministers unchecked discretion to decide what constitutes national security.

This was during Parliament’s processing of the controversial Protection of State Information Bill between 2010 and 2013. On Tuesday, Mapisa-Nqakula said that the security cluster ministers have instructed senior government officials to make recommendations on how to prevent such incidences.

While she evaded questions about the exact measures that might be taken against the offending MPs, her colleague Police Minister Nathi Nhleko revealed that the new measures would make it easy for police to arrest and remove from the Parliament precinct any person who is disrupting a sitting of the House or a committee of Parliament.

Measures put in place
Mapisa-Nqakula said that while Parliament was independent from the executive, the cluster could not stand idle. Mapisa-Nqakula said certain measures had been put in place with immediate effect by the security cluster to ensure that such an event never occurs again.

She pointed out that the Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act, which governs the conduct of MPs and members of the provincial legislatures, made provision for the police to arrest and remove from the precinct – on the order of the speaker – any person who creates or takes part in any disturbance in the precinct while Parliament is sitting.

“There are certain activities … impede the exercise by Parliament …. interfere with Parliament … section 11 of the Act provides that if any person who creates or disturbs the house may be arrested and removed from the precinct,” she said.

The police did not move in because there was no instruction from the speaker to do so, Mapisa-Nqakula said. “When the police came, they said they needed a clear instruction from the speaker of the National Assembly, because there was confusion in terms of the rules,” she said.

A number of senior ANC members have criticised the police’s delayed reaction and the fact that they did not arrest EFF MPs on their arrival in Parliament. Mapisa-Nqakula also revealed that it was she who instructed the police to ensure that when they go into the National Assembly chamber to evict EFF MPs who had staged a sit-in, there should not be a scuffle nor violence or manhandling of the MPs, but to rather ensure that they vacated the assembly.

She denied that the executive was interfering in the legislative arm of state, saying that if a similar incident had occurred in the courts, they would have reacted similarly. “There are rules and privileges and if you look at those rules, they say when there is immediate danger to the life or safety of any person or damage to any property; members of the security services may without obtaining such permission enter upon and take action in the precinct in so far as it is necessary to avert that danger,” she said.

According to Mapisa-Nqakula, while there was no heavy handedness in dealing with the matter, in future things will be different as there will be measures put in place to prevent a repetition of the incident.

‘Restraint’
Nhleko revealed that he had been the one who called the public order police to Parliament “because the order of the House had degenerated”. He said the police and other people on the scene, including ANC members, exercised “a lot of restraint” including in terms of the interventions from the security management’s point of view.

Nhleko described Thursday’s events as completely abnormal and said the measures that were being put in place had nothing to do with heavy-handedness “and everything to do with how we execute and enforce the provision that we have in the law”. This would allow for when or as a situation like Thursday’s arises, that requires the removal of MP or anybody from the Parliament precinct, for the police to effect arrest and relevant measures when the speaker makes such an order.

There were a lot more police in Parliament on Tuesday, the first day of a parliamentary sitting since the EFF disruption, than usual possibly as a result of the new security measures. Security was tighter at the entrances to Parliament and to parliamentary building with police who normally facilitate access into the precinct very strict in checking the credentials of those going in and out of the institution.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has raised concerns over the involvement of the security cluster ministers in public security matters, saying that it appeared to violate the most basic principle of separation of powers enshrined in the Constitution. DA chief whip John Steenhuisen said he will request an urgent meeting of Parliament’s highest decision-making body, the Parliamentary Oversight Authority, to discuss the matter.

He said Mapisa-Nqakula’s statements that the executive “cannot stand idle as our democracy is undermined” was a veiled threat, which completely ignores Parliament’s responsibility to uphold its own rules and therefore handle the matter. “If anything, it is because the executive does not take parliamentary accountability seriously that we have ended up in this situation in the first place. It is important to note that Parliament holds the executive to account and not the other way around,” said Steenhuisen.

He said the parliamentary oversight authority must reject the infringement of its powers, and independence as a separate arm of the state, by the executive.


South Africa – Malema and EFF threaten to shut down Businesses after Gauteng ban

Mail and Guardian

‘We are going to shut down business’ – Malema

31 Jul 2014 15:04 Chantall Presence

Julius Malema has threatened mass protest following the Gauteng Legislature’s decision to bar EFF’s members from wearing their red uniforms.

EFF leader Julius Malema. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

Economic Freedom Fighter (EFF) leader Julius Malema on Thursday vowed to shut down central Johannesburg with a protest against the Gauteng Legislature’s decision to bar his party’s members from wearing their red uniforms.

“We are taking them to court as well, but we are going to organise another march to Gauteng of not less than 50 000 people because we think we need to teach them a lesson,” Malema told reporters at Parliament.

“That thing they did in Gauteng was a coup of a special type,” Malema said in reference to police forcibly removing EFF members from the Gauteng Legislature on July 1. Party members refused to leave when speaker Ntombi Mekgwe deemed their red overalls, with the word “Asijiki” (we will not retreat) printed on them, unparliamentary. On July 22, hundreds of EFF members stormed the legislature, causing thousands of rands in damage, demanding to hand a memorandum to Mekgwe.

“We’ll try the court, but we’ll also continue to use the power of the masses,” Malema said. “If we go wearing red suits, they are going to pass a law or a rule that says red suits are not welcome. If we allow it with overalls, they going to do it with something else just to keep you outside the house.”

‘We are going to shut down business
Malema said he was not concerned about police denying them permission to march in the Johannesburg city centre because of the violence on July 22. “We are going to march in Gauteng with or without permission,” he said. “Police, if they know what’s good for them, they will have to come plan with us. They shouldn’t be surprised one day to wake up with 50 000 people in Johannesburg.”

Malema said the party was still putting together a budget for transporting thousands of its supporters to Johannesburg. A date for the march would be announced once this was done. “We are going to shut down business on that day. That Johannesburg will not be functional,” he said. “If the ANC knows what’s good for the business of Johannesburg, and the country, and the continent, it will have to resolve the issue of overalls.” – Sapa M&G

Mail and Guardian

EFF and the overalls: Nine days of missed work

31 Jul 2014

On Thursday the Gauteng legislature will rule on the EFF’s overalls. But the red berets seem happier working without the legislature, anyway.

The party has promised mass protests if the acting speaker, Uhuru Moiloa, rules against its sartorial ambitions. (GCIS)

On Tuesday this week, six provincial departmental budget votes went ahead without the Economic Freedom Fighters’ (EFF’s) eight members of the provincial legislature.

It was as though the EFF had never entered the political scene: with the only Inkatha Freedom Party member of the house apologising for not attending the sitting, and a few members of the executive committee sending apologies for leaving the sitting early, it was up to the ANC and the Democratic Alliance (DA) members of the legislature (MPL) to debate the matters that arose.

The EFF has refused to be part of the Gauteng legislature’s proceedings unless they can wear their uniforms – overalls and domestic workers’ uniforms –  missing key budget vote debates in the process.

Now, on Thursday morning, the rules committee of the legislature will meet to decide the fate of the EFF members of the house and their overalls – and the party has promised mass protests if the acting speaker, Uhuru Moiloa, rules against its sartorial ambitions.

Meanwhile, just two months after being elected to the legislature, with eight of its members drawing salaries from state funds, the party appears to be operating independently of it, undertaking its own oversight measures in the province. Trust, say EFF members, has completely broken down between the speaker’s office and the new house entrants, raising concerns about the party’s effectiveness in the legislature.

This follows an incident on July 22, when hundreds of EFF members stormed the legislature in an effort to hand over a memorandum to Moiloa. And on July 1, police forcibly removed the EFF members from the legislature for refusing to leave after speaker Ntombi Mekgwe, who is currently on leave, deemed their outfits “unparliamentary”.

Cops on high alert
The building has been under heavy police guard since the EFF stormed the legislature. Rolls of barbed wire stand ready to be deployed outside the venue, and tactical response team vehicles surround the building. Police and private security guards man the exits and entrances.

The party says it has been barred from entering the building by the police, and this is why it has been unable to attend the sittings since the spat over its uniforms began. But a source with intimate knowledge of legislature proceedings, who asked to remain anonymous, said that a programme committee meeting was held on Tuesday morning and an EFF member was present.

He also said the party’s office staff were present in the legislature, even though their MPLs were not in the house. According to EFF’s caucus leader, Mgcini Tshwaku, the party wanted the rules committee to meet urgently to make a ruling on whether or not the party’s MPLs could wear their overalls and domestic workers’ clothing. This was to avoid missing the crucial budget votes, he said.

A meeting was scheduled, but was later postponed, as members of the legislature had other commitments. It was rescheduled to Thursday this week.

Party regalia
At issue is the fact that Mekgwe and others see the asijiki insignia on the overalls as political party insignia. The Gauteng legislature rules only require that members are dressed “appropriately” – but, according to insiders, political party regalia has been banned for several years.

“The precedent actually comes from an incident when an ANC member wore political party regalia during an official legislature event. There was a complaint laid, and the speaker at the time ruled that political party clothing would not be allowed,” said a source.

This is to prevent members from campaigning for their parties with the legislature’s resources, or during official legislature work.

But Mgcini said this week that the asijiki insignia was not a slogan that belonged solely to the EFF, and added that the eight members wore “neat, ironed” overalls, which should be treated as “appropriate” attire.

EFF absence
As the EFF members and police clashed outside the legislature last Tuesday, the legislature heard debates on the budgets of roads and transport, economic development, infrastructure, agriculture, and social development.

E-tolling on Gauteng’s highways and land reform are key pillars of the EFF’s policy, yet it was not in the house to debate these issues.

Last Friday, the house adopted the budget votes for the provincial treasury and the department of finance, as well as the legislature’s own budget and that of the premier’s office. The EFF did not attend.

On Tuesday this week, the legislature held debates on the budgets of the departments of health, education, co-operative governance and traditional affairs, and housing.

Eight empty seats stood between the ANC and DA caucuses inside the house.

Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu announced major refurbishments at several major Gauteng hospitals. She said the Natalspruit Regional Hospital with 821 beds would be opened later this year, while clinics would be planned and constructed at Cosmo City, Kagiso, Randfontein, Khutsong and other areas in the province.

Maternity and neonatal ward lifts would be replaced at three hospitals and the decision to close the Kempton Park and Hillbrow hospitals was now being reviewed.

Oversight duties
But the chairperson of the portfolio committee on health, Nompi Nhlapo, said the department’s budget was insufficient to cope with the massive backlog in infrastructure problems at Gauteng hospitals.

DA MPL Jack Bloom raised concerns about the number of “turnaround plans” introduced by the department, year-after-year, that never seemed to be implemented.

But the EFF this week claimed the oversight work that it is doing independent of the legislature is sufficient to make up for its missed time on the job. It is now apparent that the EFF is prepared to work independently of the legislature, although it claims it will endeavour to do this as a last resort.

“They are just rushing the budgets now, maybe so they can get back to handing out tenders or whatever, but we have been asking very serious questions in there. I think in time you will see we’ve been doing our own oversight. We are going to go to Tembisa soon to monitor a hospital there, and I think we will need to donate beds, as the EFF, to Helen Joseph Hospital,” he said.

Mgcini said that the EFF had a mandate from its voters to accurately represent the poor and disenfranchised in the legislature, and viewed wearing any other attire as “selling out”.

“The issue of the overalls is just one of those things that we can’t let go,” he said.